Why are we so discontent? There are real reasons, but don’t despair!
This week, Psychology Today released a very interesting article on why humans are so discontented most of the time regardless of their circumstances. The article shares four researched explanations for why our human wiring keeps us from being happy.
The Four Components of Dissatisfaction
- Boredom.This research is a bit shocking. In the study, individuals were placed in a room by themselves and were given the option of sitting quietly or entertaining themselves with a device that emitted low-level electrical shocks. Amazingly, the study results showed that two thirds (67%) of the male participants gave themselves electrical shocks over sitting quietly in a room feeling bored. Only 25% of women in the study shocked themself to avoid being bored. “The study demonstrated that people dislike being alone with their thoughts so much that they’ll prefer to do anything else, even if that activity is negative.”
- Negativity Bias. I have shared this one before. We are wired to remember the negative events in our lives more than the positive ones. There is a good explanation for this, according to the article. “Good things are nice, but bad things can kill you. That’s why we pay attention to the bad stuff first and remember it better. Useful for the species—but what a bummer!”
- Rumination. This is one I am personally familiar with. For years, when something went wrong, I went over it again and again in my mind to try and better understand it. The article offers the following explanation for this. We might be trying to avoid making the same mistake by revisiting the scene again and again. However, rumination can really ruin your day by lowering your energy and creating a cascade of other physical issues over time in your body.
- Hedonic Adaptation. I had never heard this term before, but I think most of us get the concept. The constant search for happiness is attributed to this universal fact. We really want something, and we think we will be happy when we get it. But the happiness is short lived, and we are always seeking something better. I once listened to a podcast with Dr. Andrew Huberman, who explained that the need to seek the next thing for happiness is partly caused by our hormone dopamine which needs more and more to maintain its current level of satisfaction.
Upgrading Our Wiring Through Daily Practices
So, there you have it. All the internal systems working behind the scenes keeping us from being happy. But we can upgrade our internal hardwiring toward happiness through meditation, yoga and HeartMath tools. These practices actually change your physiology including your nervous system, brain, and hormonal system. But they only work if practiced daily. To change our hardwiring, we need to build a new system from the inside out. It is work, but you will be happier while you are doing it. Reach out if I can help.